An Alberta grizzly bear count by an independent scientist pegs the population at 691, but the province has not stated if that's enough to list the species as threatened.

Dr. Marco Festa-Bianchet, an expert on large mammals, noted in a report released Wednesday that some local grizzly bear populations may be declining.

Cutting down on "human-caused mortality" such as vehicle collisions with bears and "motorized access to habitat" would help stabilize the number of grizzlies, according to the report.

Environmental groups have been lobbying the Alberta government to declare the grizzly — currently considered "may be at risk" — as threatened, so that a current hunting ban becomes permanent and steps can be taken to protect their habitat.

There were 841 bears in Alberta in 2000, according to a count done that year by the provincial government.

The Endangered Species Conservation Committee will make a recommendation on whether or not to change the bears' designation after reviewing Wednesday's report, said the province in a news release.